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Wednesday, 13 November 1985
Page: 2066

Senator CHIPP —I direct my question to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. I refer to the proposed amendments to the Queensland Liquor Act, whereby hotel licensees will be under a legal obligation to prohibit from entering their premises anyone whom they suspect of being `deviant'. Does the Minister agree that such police state measures would give bartenders and hoteliers the licence to indulge their prejudices and encourage bigots to engage in open victimisation, unbridled hostility and physical abuse of those whose lifestyles they dislike? I take it that Senator Walters, who is interjecting, supports the Queensland Bill-that is, provided that she could recognise a deviant if she saw one.

The PRESIDENT —Order! Will the honourable senator ask his question?

Senator CHIPP —Further, does the Minister agree that this action on the part of the minority Queensland Government provides an additional reason for the Government to support Senator Macklin's one-vote one-value Bill, which would enable a senior Australian State to rid itself of such a moronic government, which can now be re-elected by only 36 per cent of the population?

Senator GARETH EVANS —If anyone should be barred from anything on the grounds of deviance, it is the Queensland Premier himself, on the grounds of his deviant bigotry, his deviant authoritarianism and his deviant contempt--

The PRESIDENT —Order! I ask the Minister to withdraw those remarks.

Senator GARETH EVANS —If it is thought inappropriate, Mr President, I will, but--

The PRESIDENT —Order! Clearly the Minister is breaching standing order 418. I would ask him to withdraw.

Senator Chipp —He is a deviant.

Senator Walters —I wish to raise a point of order, Mr President.

The PRESIDENT —Order! There is no point of order.

Senator Walters —It is a different point of order.

The PRESIDENT —I will take the point of order after the Minister withdraws.

Senator GARETH EVANS —I withdraw, Mr President.

Senator Walters —I now ask that Senator Chipp also withdraw his interjection.

The PRESIDENT —Order! There is no point of order.

Senator Walters —On a point of order, Mr President, I would like Senator Chipp's interjection that the Premier is a deviant to be withdrawn.

The PRESIDENT —Order! There was an exchange between Senator Walters and Senator Chipp, but whatever it was I frankly did not hear it. There is no point of order.

Senator GARETH EVANS —Lest it be thought that I myself was proposing any authoritarian solution so far as the Queensland Premier is concerned, let me make it clear that the only barring I had in mind was from further participation in public life by the voters of that State. There were eminently extensive grounds for that, not least in the latest legislation of which we have now had public notice. It appears that the proposed amendment to the Queensland Liquor Act will authorise discriminatory treatment against persons suspected of being, as Senator Chipp says, deviant. Presumably it is intended that the discrimination may be based merely on the ground that the behaviour of that person is or appears to be behaviour that deviates from normal behaviour.

In this respect I make the point that there is a very real problem so far as the general international covenants on human rights are concerned. It is a fundamental human right, recognised in both the Universal Declaration and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, that every person has the right without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. That means that the substance of the law must not be discriminatory, unless discrimination can be justified on proper and rational grounds. If exclusion from licensed premises is to be based merely on some suspected deviance, there would not appear to be any rational basis provided in the legislation establishing proper, defensible grounds as a matter of international law for introducing a discriminatory law. It would appear that this provision is absolutely at odds with Australia's international obligations under the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and is another classic demonstration of the indifference, to put it at its mildest, of the Queensland Government for those basic principles.

As to the second part of the honourable senator's question as to whether this gives further nourishment to Senator Macklin's proposal, there is clearly, as I said the other day in answer I think to Senator Jones, need for major reform of some kind to ensure that Queensland is taught to respect democratic values. The Government's view is strongly supportive of one-vote one-value principles being applied to States as well as to Federal Government elections as being the only proper and equitable basis for electoral systems. As to the best means of assuring this-whether it should be a referendum and, if so, whether it should be in the terms of Senator Macklin's Bill or whether there is some other way of doing it-it is a matter, as I have said before, for further consideration. It may be that an opportunity will arise for that consideration on the proposed reference of Senator Macklin's Bill to the Joint Select Committee on Electoral Reform, with its now extended terms of reference.